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2013 Movies Preview

We’re back for a brand new year with a brand new crop of one dozen movies to look forward to, these including plenty of sci-fi, some animation, and even a genuine western. Check out our Pyxis Mag picks as we countdown the Top 12 Most Anticipated Movies of the New Year, and if you think we’ve missed any, let us know in the comments. Happy cinema-going!

12 | After Earth | Director M. Night Shyamalan | Starring Will Smith, Jaden Smith | in theatres 7 June
No word yet on just how twisty-turny Shyamalan is planning to make this one, but the general overview is that a jungle-covered Earth isn’t so hospitable anymore, and a place called Nova Prime has replaced it. Smith senior plays General Cypher Raige, with Smith junior as his son. When an asteroid smacks into their spacecraft, they get diverted to Earth, and hijinks, erhm, dangers ensue. This could either be heartwarming-meets-scifi (think Pursuit of Happyness in space), or it could do an overblown crash and burn, kinda like the Raige’s ship.

11 | Ender’s Game | Director Gavin Hood | Starring Asa Butterfield, Harrison Ford, Ben Kingsley| in theatres 1 November
Most sci-fan fans have probably read the heavily-themed book of the same name, as penned by Orson Scott Card – and at least half as many of those are probably hoping that some of the serious demeaning and hazing as depicted in the tome won’t show up too graphically on screen. That said, the solid, thought-provoking storyline, which pits the people of earth against a superior, insectoid alien species, needed a equally solid (read: non-whiny) actor in the lead role of Ender, and the likeable Asa Butterfield will likely fill that place well. (Jake Lloyd – aka “Whiny Anakin” in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace – was in contention early on, but thankfully didn’t get the part.) We’re also looking forward to seeing Ford, who crankily oversees the harsh “battle school” that Ender attends in order to prepare him for all the fighting.

10 | Monsters University | Director Dan Scanlon | Starring John Goodman, Billy Crystal, Steve Buscemi | in theatres 21 June
Go ahead, say it out loud – you know you want to. “Mike Wazowski!” That’s right, Mike and his pal Sully (aka James P. Sullivan) are back in this latest monstrous Disney/Pixar production, although this time ’round, they’re not so much pals as petulant peers. Rumour has it that when Mike and Sully met back in their university days, they supposedly couldn’t stand each other – so how did they get to the great buddy/teammate status they’ve got today? This nostalgic look back hints at more Pixar excellence, and some great school-days wit, as well.

9 | Jack the Giant Slayer | Director Bryan Singer | Starring Ewan McGregor, Bill Nighy, Warwick Davis | in theatres 1 March
Shot in the classically-evocative landscapes of the English countryside, this McGregor-starring (non-animated!) film, as directed by X-Men helmsman Singer, is certainly an intriguing venture. McGregor stars as Jack (‘natch), a farmhand who falls into the task of having to rescue a princess from a race of giants after he accidentally opens the gateway to the giants’ world. Shot in 3D and with the famed Red cameras, this Jack is set to be a grown-up take on a archetypal fairy tale story.

8 | Iron Man 3 | Director Shane Black | Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Guy Pearce, Ben Kingsley | in theatres 3 May
The early trailer for this one shows Ironman aka Tony Stark’s world – and his gorgeous house – literally being turned upside-down, so chances are that’s what gets him riled and looking for trouble this time around. Stark faces not one, but two foes in this Iron Man movie – namely the powerful Mandarin and Aldrich Killian, the creator of the “Extremis Virus” and the resident creepy guy this time around. Stark also struggles with his Iron Man role internally, questioning the power of the suit – and the power of himself. Dun dun dahhh!

7 | Frozen | Director Chris Buck | Starring Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff | in theatres 27 November
The second film in our list that’s based on a classic old tale features a cold-hearted Snow Queen, her cursed sister Anna, a rugged mountain climber, and several more quirky characters native to the endless winter that’s befallen the land, in Disney-musical form. Bell plays the sympathetic Anna, while Menzel chews up the scenery (as always) as the Queen, and Glee’s Groff lends his voice as the mountain man; beautifully-rendered, icy, Everest-worthy animated landscapes serve as a character of their own.

6 | Saving Mr. Banks | Director John Lee Hancock | Starring Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson, Colin Farrell, Paul Giamatti | in theatres 7 December
The name of this Hancock-directed film certainly doesn’t give much indication as to its storyline. But “Mr. Banks,” some of you might recall, is the name of the stuffy banker in the classic Disney live-action film Mary Poppins, which was feted at last year’s Olympic Games closing ceremonies. This movie explains how Mr. Banks almost didn’t exist at all, as the working relationship between Poppins author, P.L. Travers (Thompson) and Walt Disney (Hanks) didn’t exactly start smoothly. Could be both an interesting peek into backlot happenings and a heartwarmer, especially with Paul Giamatti along as a kindly limousine driver and Kathy Baker as Disney’s assistant.

5 | The Lone Ranger | Director Gore Verbinski | Starring Johnny Depp, Armie Hammer, Helena Bonham-Carter | in theatres 3 July
Verbinski, of Pirates of the Caribbean fame, is sure to give this take on the teaming up of the Lone Ranger (aka John Reid, aka Hammer) and Tonto (Depp) a stylish and appropriate look (the film was primarily shot in Utah and New Mexico). Rumour has it he digs farther into Native American lore and the legend of how Reid got transformed into the justice-seeking mask-wearing man, too. And oh boy, those trailers so far – they showcase the same combo of adventure, wit, and heart that made the first three Pirates movies so appealing. This should be a good one.

4 | Oblivion | Director Joseph Kosinski | starring Tom Cruise, Morgan Freeman | in theatres 19 April
Cruise plays an ageless “drone repairman” on a alien-war-devastated Earth for this outing, although in typical Cruise fashion, details are scarce so far as to the film’s actual plot. The best we can gather is that he rescues a girl from a crashed spacecraft while on his repairman rounds, and learns some things about the war that cause him to turn from repairman to rebel. A welcome Freeman, in the trailers, is spotted in his (underground?) lair looking a bit like Morpheus from the Matrix series; the inclusion of Kosinski as director (he previously did cool things as director of the reboot of Tron: Legacy) gives this one even more weight.

3 | Star Trek Into Darkness | director J.J. Abrams | starring Chris Pine, Benedict Cumberbatch | in theatres 17 May
Earth is in near-postapocalyptic condition (lot of that going ’round this film season, apparently), somebody’s attacked Starfleet (nooo!), and it’s up to Kirk and his crew to figure out this whodunit and capture the villain, who just happens to be played by the same skilled actor who’s taken on the role of Sherlock in the newest BBC series of the same name. Action, spaceships, FX, the sly direction of J.J. Abrams, and some pretty brill casting (it’s quite easy to envision this Enterprise crew growing up into what would become the landmark gang overseen by Shatner) make this one of the summer blockbusters to beat.

2 | Oz the Great and Powerful | Director Sam Raimi | Starring James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz, Bruce Campbell | in theatres 8 March
Although we at first couldn’t picture the smug-slash-brooding Franco as the legendary man who grows up to be the Wizard himself, once we saw the trailer, we were sold. Set before he takes up residence in the Emerald City (he’s called Oscar Diggs back then), Franco’s Mr. Diggs is a shifty circus magician whose character goes through some good-vs-evil growing pains, thereby transforming him into the Wizard we all know so well – but not before he meets a trio of witches (including Williams as Glinda) and the incomparably hilarious Campbell as Gore, the Dark Wizard. Music by Danny Elfman is sure to complement the remarkably fantastical visuals.

1 | The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug | director Peter Jackson | starring Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Cate Blanchett | in theatres 13 December
While the naysayers spent plenty of time last year complaining about this or that in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (“it was too long!” “it looked too real!” “it didn’t look real enough!”), we don’t care. This second episode – like the first – has hobbits! And Gandalf! And a grand moral centre teamed up with great battles and beautiful vistas! And did we mention an intimidating, gold-happy dragon named Smaug? But that just keeps things interesting. You go, Peter Jackson, and we’ll be there to see this one, and episode three, too.   – Kristi Kates